Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Thursday the Angels were listening to offers for Ohtani (subscription required). Keep in mind "listening" to offers isn't necessarily the same thing as actively shopping a player. It might just mean not slamming the phone down at the suggestion of a deal.
Hello. I'd like to inquire about a deal for Shohei Oh -- *click*
Now at least the speaker gets to get an offer out before hearing it's not nearly enough for the Angels' two-way, one-of-a-kind superstar.
Hello, I'd like to inquire about a deal for Shohei Ohtani.
It's going to cost you an arm and a leg.
That said, Ohtani was asked about the possibility of a trade after his performance Thursday (11 strikeouts and two earned runs allowed in six innings in a loss) and had this to say through his translator (via the LA Times):
“The question isn’t whether I want to stay. I have to do what I’m supposed to do. Regardless of where I am, what I do doesn’t change. Of course, there’s the part of me that feels grateful of how the team has taken care of me. I like the fans too of course.
“Right now, as long as I’m with the Angels — and it was like that today too — I want to do my best to win each and every game. There’s tomorrow to think about too and I have to turn the page.”
A lot of parsing of that statement could be made. Is being made.
"Non-committal" was one way of putting it.
But there's another way of looking at it.
Fans undoubtedly would have liked Ohtani to say he'd love to play his entire career in Los Angeles. That would be the easy way out. But would it be the honest one?
He has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining in 2023 and should be in line for a huge deal when he hits free agency. Just last fall, Ohtani had this to say after being asked about the possibility of signing an extension with the Angels.
"I really like the team. I love the fans. I love the atmosphere of the team. But, more than that, I want to win. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’ll leave it at that.”
Ohtani has to be asking himself whether that's an actual possibility in LA.
The Angels are 42-57 this year, fourth place in the AL West. No shot at the playoffs.
Since Ohtani joined the team in 2018, they are 255-291 (.467).
They have made the playoffs once since 2009; they got swept in the ALDS in 2014.
The easy answer would have been for Ohtani to say he'd love to stay an Angel, but instead he noted today's an Angel. Tomorrow, if he's not, you turn the page.
Maybe it's a little easier to imagine him wearing another team's uniform after all.